As countries around the world move to decarbonise their economies, a major challenge facing utilities and power distributors is determining the optimal method to integrate renewables into the grid network.
Effective integration will maximise the cost-effectiveness of incorporating variable renewable energy into the power system while maintaining system stability.
Energy consultancy PSC focuses on connecting a variety of power generators to the AEMO — or Australian Energy Market Operator — network.
“The bread and butter of our Power Networks projects relate to the connection of renewables — wind farms, solar farms, hybrid systems, synchronous generators and battery storage — into the National Electricity Market (NEM),” said Dr Hesam Marzooghi, Team Leader Power Systems Studies at PSC.
The company conducts a range of studies, from visibility all the way to connection and owner’s engineer roles. This is in addition to other power system work, such as planning, protection, design and inrush current studies for transformers.
“Whatever falls into the area of grid-scale renewables is something that we get involved in,” said Marzooghi.
PSC prides itself on the depth and breadth of technical expertise in its team. It recently signed a bulk credentialing agreement with Engineers Australia to ensure its staff are regularly upskilled.
“Our people possess so much knowledge in the power system world and it’s beneficial for our company, and the industry, to appreciate that they are independently assessed,” said Marzooghi. “This also gives our clients confidence, as Engineers Australia do not give these credentials without a thorough vetting process.”
The requirement to keep earning continuing professional development points also motivates engineers to stay up-to-date with their technical knowledge.
“We would like to see our people go through this journey and work together with Engineers Australia to get credentialed, engaged, and then proceed to the next stage of becoming a Chartered engineer. That’s why we’re [Engineers Australia] members and supporting this initiative,” said Marzooghi.
While PSC operates in a very specific sector of power management, its global services span a wider number of key areas.
“We help generators right from feasibility studies to commissioning the plant and validating the model,” said Dr Amir Mehrtash CPEng, Team Leader of Power Systems Studies at PSC.
PSC’s power network solutions team undertakes high-level concept design, protection, coordination, arc flash and other studies.
“We also help system operators and network service providers with the due diligence of connection application packages,” said Mehrtash.
The increasing complexity of renewable integration
“If I look back to my career in 2018 and 2019, integrating renewables just meant connecting a simple solar or wind farm to the network,” recalled Marzooghi.
“Now, there are many hybrid projects — for example, a solar farm and a battery connected to the network. Some hybrid projects can be very complex.”
This includes AEMO’s work with industry to engineer a power system capable of running at 100 per cent instantaneous penetration of renewable energy, including grid-scale solar, wind, hydro, biomass and rooftop photovoltaics.
To find out more about Chartered engineer status, head over to Engineers Australia.